By Guamacice Delice
Correction: The print version of this article has misattributed Mr. Onyekachi Akoma saying the completion of the AVCC is in July 2026.
Some students are impatient.
The price of progress will be paid by those who try to work and study on the York College campus for at least four more years, as projects to upgrade the dilapidated facilities drag on.
Among the ongoing projects are the Academic Core building entrance door restoration, campus-wide electrical and plumbing upgrades, the seemingly endless escalator and elevator upgrades, lecture hall and lab renovations and roof and facade repairs, just to name a few.
Onyekachi Akoma, who was hired as executive director of Facilities Management in October 2020, said seven major projects, including upgraded escalators and elevators, have been completed since his arrival as the COVID pandemic was nearing its peak.
“Five additional projects initiated since my arrival are ongoing,” said Akoma, listing the entry doors, oil tank removals and replacement, the AC roof replacement and extensive replacement of equipment needed to get York’s defunct indoor pool in the Health and Physical Education (HPEC) building back in use.
There is still no word on the construction of a temporary athletic facility behind the HPEC building, which halted construction last year after a contract was awarded. A contract was put out to bid last semester to repair the existing track and field on Liberty Avenue, and Akoma said that work will start this year.
Most students have been waiting patiently for the construction to end.
“It is a simple renovation to me,” said Bassam Ismail about the ongoing construction on campus.
“I feel that the construction around the school will help make it structurally sound and safer for students and faculty,” said Tyler Dazey, a Communication Technology major. She added that she hopes they finish in a timely fashion. “They have been going on for almost two years now while the results seem to be the same.”
Some students, however, have become increasingly irritated with many facilities, including the gym and escalators, being either under construction or dysfunctional for so long.
Some Cardinal App users even make fun of it. “Well, York [has] been crappy looking since I got here in 2018,” wrote a student to whom another one answered, “Well, I am graduating next semester and I will never see the improvements. So, waste of my time.” Another student affirmed initiating her transfer to another four-year college, saying that she could not stand the environment at York anymore.
“The elevator project has been completed and the escalators have been installed and functioning,” according to The York College Website. But the AC Building elevators break down almost every week, to the dismay of students.
The problem with groundwater infiltration in the Academic Core Building remains unresolved. The current temporary fix involves waterproofing, “the interior of the basement using the latest method” and secluding the area with equipment mounted in the platform while changing “damaged electrical panels and distribution-system equipment,” according to the college’s five-year plan.
The reopening of the Performing Arts Center has been postponed to June 2023 due to a need for upgrading and improving its interior, including bathrooms, dressing areas, stage seating and lighting. This project encompasses expanding the elevator service to another floor, creating a new conference room, and replacing the entrance, stage and interior doors.
Another project extended to June 2023 is the Track and Field Facility Upgrades, which was designed to prevent track and field from sinking “due to soil erosion.” It consists of replacing “sections of the track and field oval that have sunk and have been closed for competition and practice for several years,” the five-year plan states.
York College’s Academic Village and Conference Center is another project that will house “the School of Business and Information System, student clubs and meeting spaces, computer labs and a one-top student enrollment center,” according to the Five-Year Capital Plan.
Its features will include a sustainable roof garden, a café, and an art gallery. The exact date for the construction of the nine-floor AVCC building is now unknown.
The plan has been in limbo for decades, but has been earmarked in this year’s budget proposal by CUNY to the state legislature for $300 million.